The Power of Silence

As a young girl I was independent, fiery, opinionated. I would argue with anyone, gleefully taking the opposite side just for the sake of argument. I did it my way or not at all, and life was pretty tough and lonely. Then, a light came on and I realized I needed to adjust my attitude. From this point in time I can't say what instigated this change, it wasn't one light filled moment as with St. Paul's conversion. It was more likley a series of small things.

This change, however, did not dampen my outspoken nature. I still held forth on certain topics, but in a more socially accepted manner, tempered with concerns for others' feelings and needs. Then I married my first husband, and keeping my tongue in check had a whole other meaning.

After seven years of abuse I kept silent not from a standpoint of strength, but from fear. Gradually the suppressed anger, resentment, and hurt built up like steam in a sealed pressure cooker, and when this pressure reached critical mass, the explosion took out the cooker and every one and every thing standing close by. This was followed by bouts of insomnia, panic attacks and nightmares. My physician recommended counseling.

My saint of a counslor pointed out the terrible price I paid for swallowing my anger and gave me several tools for dealing with it in a positive way. The biggest key to defusing my anger was forgiveness, forgiving my enemy rather than harboring the hurt and anger, dreaming of retribution. 

It was hard work to change this behavior. I struggled with balancing my need to deal with my anger and yet remain Christian in my attitude: being kind, patient and loving toward my enemies. This week God taught me a powerful lesson on this subject.

I encountered a woman professing to be Christian and yet she spoke with a viper's tongue.  I was tempted to make retorts to each one of her judgemental and hurtful comments, but something held my tongue in check. Instead, I answered her ugly comments with silence, not the silence of fear, but the silence of self-confidence, of being in the right and not needing validation. My response denied her the reaction she desired, and she walked away. 

There is a wise adage about how to discern when to speak and when to be silent.  It asks,  "Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?" The last question is the most helpful to me, giving me a guidline as to when to speak  (against injustices), and when to remain silent (in response to insults).

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
the courage to change the things I can;
and the wisdom to know the difference.

Amen. 

Comments

  1. Great post, Marie! One I need to heed. Thanks for sharing!

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  2. Thank you for stopping in and commenting, Sheila. It was certainly a powerful lesson for me and I know I am not the only one struggling with this.

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  3. Great post...as always, spoken from one who has been seasoned with grace.

    We watched a movie last night and what you wrote was what I got from the movie...I felt the Lord was telling me to heed when to speak and when to be silent. Thanks for sharing your insight and the grace God has given you through your life experiences.

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  4. Janette, interesting how He keeps up the reminders until we heed His instruction. Which movie? He might be adding another confirmation to me as well. I know my struggles are not unique. We all share the same temptations and desire to grow in our faith. Blessings to you and your family in your challenges.

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  5. Well, I can certainly relate to this post. I have had my share of giving my tongue permission before God gave the answer.....I am still working on seeking his wisdom before I speak but sometimes growth is slow and hard....Thank goodness God is faithful....

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  6. Insightful post, Cecilia. I also struggle with keeping my tongue in check. It is indeed such a tiny rudder that can steer a huge ship, and I want to get it under subjection so my daughter will not suffer from lack of its control. Thank you for this reminder!

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  7. Jolina, you are absolutely right, and every one of us are guilty of having loose tongues at one time or another, and it is obviously a universal problem. Thank you for taking the time to stop in and comment.

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  8. Great post! I can so relate. I struggle a lot with keeping silent.

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  9. I know, we all do, Tonya. Thank you for stopping in and commenting.

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